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Punters Seeing The Push Into Apps Ahead Of New Season

Guy on phone

 

If you’re like us, then you’ll have certainly witnessed the countless push notifications about the World Cup this summer. There was no way of avoiding the score.

Updates coming through from Paddy Power, William Hill, and even Twitter- so whether you were asleep missing out on the 2am kick off, or on the train during the World Cup Final desperately averting your eyes and ears from anyone mentioning the words ‘Germany’ or ‘Argentina’ because you had it recorded at home, you were constantly kept in the loop by a buzzing in your trouser pocket. Believe me.

It seems push notifications are the new big marketing tool for companies, allowing businesses to instantly contact its customers and encouraging them to actively use their app.

Take the World Cup as an example, the likelihood is that if you have a betting app, you’re going to use it – especially during the world’s biggest sporting event. In the UK alone, 4.3% of iPhone users have an app on their phone, and with the rapid growth of betting in the mobile sector, that’s predicted to rise to 10% very soon.

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And on top of that, with 68% of people who download apps opting in to receive push notifications, that’s a huge market. And companies are already reaping the rewards.

Bookmaker Coral received significant spikes in turnover following each push notification sent during the World Cup, whilst during a Freebets Q&A with Paddy Power, Mick Forry, Sportsbook Affiliates and Partnerships Manager at the company affirmed that push messages will be used to give a customer the information they want.

He said, “Long term I would see push as us giving the customers control over what information they receive. Giving customers the power to tailor their betting experience should enhance it.”

Which is great news for the customer. In a world where we need reminding to pick the kids up from school, put the washing machine on before work, or visit the supermarket on the way home, being reminded to place your usual accumulator or half time bet will be extremely useful to punters.

We find push on most apps now, it was prominent throughout the summer, and whilst it is a great marketing ploy across all industries for brands, it’s also very convenient for ourselves as smartphones continue to organise our lives more and more.

The Silly Referee Decision That Made Me Question Football

Cards

It’s always interesting when you view football games and the Ryder Cup is also on, you feel torn as to which sport you should be watching. But SKY/BT and the Premier League did offer up some tasty opposition to the golf on Saturday with the Merseyside derby followed by the North London equivalent.

Although I mostly watched the football I cannot lie and say that I didn’t flick over to the golf on a few occasions.

The Liverpool and Everton match was a good blood and guts affair with both teams having a go at each other, all in the hope of three points and city bragging rights. It had looked as though Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard had once again defeated the Toffees until right at the end, when Everton’s own captain Phil Jagielka fired home a rocket of an equaliser.

That was a good appetiser for the evening kick-off.

The North London derby was a bit more nervy and tactical match-up, although both sides did put in some robust challenges.

At the back Spurs had looked strong all game. Younes Kaboul looked like a man mountain that just wouldn’t be beaten. Arsenal’s neat football was often broken up either by Kaboul or by their own stars getting an injury.

A moment of madness saw Mathieu Flamini lose possession deep inside his own half to Christen Eriksen. The Dane then passed the ball onto Erik Lamela who in turn expertly played in Nacer Chadli. Unlike in the first half when he fluffed his lines, this time the Belgian steered the ball into the far-side of the net and gave Tottenham the lead.

Arsenal then started to apply the pressure as they went in search of an equaliser. That duly appeared when the Spurs defence finally crumbled inside their own area and allowed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain time and space to smash in his first strike of the season.

Now those were two fairly entertaining 1-1 draws, yet all I could think of after the second game was of one particularly stupid refereeing decision.

After Chadli got the opener, he was booked for his celebration.

Now I am not a fan of booking players for celebrating goals especially not in big derby games like this. But this occasion seemed even more pathetic than usual. See Chadli didn’t take his top off or run head first into the crowd or even vandalise the advertising boards or corner flags.

No, all he did was wheel away and subtly stick his hand to his ear. It’s a common celebration that signals that the opposing fans aren’t singing anymore. One that is repeated up and down the country each week. Oh and lets not forget that former England captain Steven Gerrard used a similar celebration earlier that afternoon and received no punishment.

So why on earth was Chadli booked this time?

Offending the crowd and inciting a riot? Well I think the ‘Gooners’ would have been more offended with the goal itself and Flamini’s clumsy defending. And I doubt the sight of Chadli celebrating would start mass hysteria and public outcry. The celebration was hardly controversial or over the top. Now had he done a full on Hulk Hogan reenactment then fair enough but he didn’t.

For me, Michael Oliver’s (the ref) decision to book him for that simple gesture was petty and unwarranted. It’s decisions like that, that kill some of the enjoyment for me. It really disheartens me and makes me question why we can’t allow passion to shine through when goals are scored. Players have to walk tightropes not knowing what a certain referee will do from one week to the next.

Now I am not having a huge go at the officials. They have a really tough job to do. Look at the Man Utd/West Ham game. Both Sam Allardyce and Kevin Nolan told the world that the linesman cost them the game by getting a decision wrong, when he flagged Nolan offside. The ‘Hammers’ midfielder went a step further slating Andrew Garratt’s fitness and saying he took a ‘gamble’ when he flagged. The thing is, the lino was right Nolan was offside. Nolan was the one that took the gamble and stepped up too soon and was caught rightly offside!

So believe me, I get the fact that the officials have a hard time of it. They will get flak for everything and anything. I just wish they would show more leeway when it comes to the passionate side of the game and more common-sense with some of their decisions.

Booking Nacer Chadli was just wrong in my eyes and put a dampener on my weekends football. But don’t worry, Europe’s fine Ryder Cup victory soon put a smile back on my face!

 

What’s The Mata With Juan?

Mata

When you sign for a new club for a fee of £37.1m, then you’d probably expect to still be an automatic first choice starter nine months later. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with classy midfielder Juan Mata at Manchester United.

The Spaniard was dropped in the teams capitulation against Leicester City last weekend and failed to regain his starting place when Man United took on West Ham yesterday.

Legendary Dutch manager Louis van Gaal has decided to play Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao up top. That move has seen captain Wayne Rooney drops into the hole behind the strikers and that decision has pushed Mata out of the team.

Now we can’t doubt Mata’s talent and skills. He has a wonderful knack when taking set pieces. In his three full EnglishPremier League seasons, the Spanish internationalist has created thirty-one assists. That is a phenomenal record. He also bagged twenty-four goals, plus he already has two this campaign. He also has the key ability to keep hold of possession when he gets hold of the ball.

So the problem obviously isn’t what he can do when he has the ball. Yet he seems to find himself out of Louis van Gaal’s preferred starting eleven. It’s starting to feel like the start of last season all over again.

Last year, Jose Mourinho once again took control at Chelsea. Many viewed Juan Mata as his main asset, as the Spaniard was probably the ‘Blues’ best player in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge. But the ‘Special One’ decided that the creative man wasn’t for him and would only use him sparingly.

Now Van Gaal seems to be doing the same.

Why? 

Well it looks like it’s his off the ball contribution that worries talented coaches like Louis and Jose.

The twenty-six year old hasn’t been blessed with explosive pace. He also struggles in a tackle and can’t work back as well as the likes of Rooney (Man Utd) and Oscar (Chelsea). A player like Mata also relies on space and time, currently at Manchester United they are seen as vulnerable and that means that the opposition are on you from the first minute, badgering you off the ball.

If you look at Man United’s current midfield with Angel Di Maria, Danny Blind, Ander Herrera and Rooney. They are all players with good legs and 100% commitment. Those are attributes that impress Van Gaal, hence why they are in the team. Now out of them Rooney probably would be the most likely, in terms of footballing prowess that would make way for Mata. Yet Van Gaal made Wayne his captain and said he is almost the star player, who is nearly un-droppable at Old Trafford just now.

So that could mean less game time once again for Juan Mata. Although he should figure against Everton next weekend as Rooney was sent-off against West Ham, due to a blatant kick out at Stewart Downing. Injuries are also a big problem at United at the moment, so the Spanish maestro should still get opportunities this term.

But come January and he is still on the fringes more than he isn’t then could Juan Mata expect another January move? We’ve seen a lot of talk about a return to Spain as a makeweight for deals for defenders such as Nicolas Otamendi (Valencia) or Miranda (Atletico Madrid).

At the moment it seems as though Mata is a luxury that Man United can ill afford as they look to rebuild.

FIve Out Of Work Men Watching Toon Saga

Newcastle_United

In modern day football you seem to be only one defeat away from a crisis. At Newcastle United, it seems like manager Alan Pardew is currently in that precarious position of needing wins and points to save his job.

The ‘Toon’ boss has the fans calling for his head and has had the dreaded vote of confidence from owner Mike Ashley.

A lot was expected of Newcastle this term as they had bought well in the summer but the club are stuck at the foot of the English Premier League table and have yet to secure their first league win of the season.

Scoring goals has been a major problem as the new squad struggle to gel. A 3-3 home draw with Crystal Palace and a 4-0 defeat away to Southampton have been deemed totally unacceptable. Should they get another poor result against Stoke City this weekend and it could be curtains for Pardew’s time on the Tyne.

If the ‘Magpies’ vacancy were to become available then quite a few unemployed managers would certainly take interest, even if it means working with Ashley and having an arm tied behind their back.

Should they need a new man, then the next appointment will show the world, just how ambitious Newcastle are or aren’t!

So here is five out of work gentleman that could be in the frame should Newcastle United decide that they need a change.

Neil Lennon: 

The former Celtic man will be itching to get back into work after a few months rest. At Newcastle he would be at a big club, and he obviously has experience managing a club of that stature. He has a Champions League background, overseeing Celtic’s historic win over Barcelona in 2012.

During his time in Glasgow, he brought his players together and had them playing for him and believing in him. That could be just what the ‘Magpies’ need at this moment in time. Another plus is that Lennon has worked well with a good scouting system in the past. Has also learned well from mentor Martin O’Neill in protecting his CV.

Question marks remain as to whether or not Lennon and Celtic were just the perfect fit and whether he can replicate that elsewhere.

Tim Sherwood:

Did a reasonably good job at Spurs and is a young, confident manager who will see the job as an ideal way to cement his burgeoning reputation. Has turned down a few clubs already this summer as they were deemed not big enough for him.

Would be seen as another southern softie that would only placate the board and not the fans. That could mean yet another turbulent era for the club as Tim can be a divisive figure.

Everyone still needs to be convinced on Sherwood’s credentials. Is he justifiably confident or just arrogant? Only when he gets his next job will we be able to tell.

Tony Pulis:

Has vast English Premier League experience. Things went stale at Stoke City after seven successful years. Often maligned at Stoke because of his tactics, he showed last term at Crystal Palace that he can inspire any group of players and can also implement an exciting style of football.

Always seems to get the optimum from the players at his disposal. Would see Newcastle United as his last chance of managing a ‘big’ club. But would probably demand that Ashley and the board spent more on the squad and that might work against him.

Another issue; would the Newcastle fans take to him? They might see his tactics as a step-back. Just look at how they reacted to Sam Allardyce tenure in 2007.

Clarence Seedorf:

The Dutch coach had a fantastic playing career and would gain instant respect from the players.

Wasn’t treated well when he returned to boss AC Milan last season. In my opinion, he deserved at least a year at the San Siro before assessing his impact. Would be an interesting appointment that could be seen as having too much imagination for the Toon board.

Obviously he still has to prove himself as a top team coach but he is an intelligent football man, that will have the hunger to show the footballing world just how talented he can be.

But remember what happened the last time Newcastle Utd hired a Dutch legend?

David Moyes:

Moyes would be another boss desperate to prove his worth again. Had a fantastic time at Everton but a horrible year at Old Trafford (Louis Van Gaal isn’t faring much better at Man Utd).

Would see Newcastle United as a club with the right stature to once again show he is a top EPL manager. But would be wary of the Ashley regime (that is a common theme). Plus would the club want to take on his big wage?

Has his career been fatally wounded by his experience in replacing Sir Alex Ferguson or can he comeback and show he is even greater due to the lows of last season? An owner will need to take the gamble for us to find-out.

 

Product Review: Campo Retro

Campo Retro

CAMPO RETRO is a great design and manufacturer that excels in superb football retro style polo shirts.

I have the Fiorentina Bernabeu Violet jersey. The violet colour is extremely reminiscent of all the famous Fiorentina kits of the past. The style is based on the top worn by the famous ‘Viola’ side of the eighties including a certain Roberto Baggio.

The shirt is another one of those smart football related clothing items that you can wear on any smart/casual occasion. Ideal for the beer gardens in the summer or match it up with a nice cardigan and wear it beside the fire at your local pub watching the game on a wintery Sunday (Just don’t get it covered in Sunday Roast gravy!).

Obviously it would be ideal for a relaxing meal at an Italian cantina enjoying a bowl of hearty pasta and a large glass of Chianti.

Detail

The finish and attention to detail makes it stand-out and elevates it to full grown up gear status. You can see and appreciate the craftmanship that seems to go into every stitch.

It feels comfortable to wear and the 100% cotton garment allows your body to breathe.

I love the two toned, turned down collar. Again it makes the top more adult and adds to that retro football strip feel.

Receiving your goods in a lovely Campo bag is also a classy touch.

Collar

You can checkout the Campo website HERE and see all the ranges available, most teams are covered! There is a sale worth up to 50% off some fantastic tops at the moment too.

Also until the end of September you can get free delivery on your items if you use the promo code FREEDEL at the checkout.

The website is well worth a look as the clothes are fantastic and available at a superb price!

Picture Note:

I suspended the shirt in our studio at work. I then wanted a black and white background, to help the violet shirt standout and to show that some of us like more than just black and white (a dig against Fiorentina’s main rivals Juventus).

The picture used is a blurred black and white image of the Ponte Vecchio, the historic bridge in Florence (Where Fiorentina are based). Plus I stuck in a Campo Retro logo on top of that again.

Is Martinez Coming Unstuck At Goodison?

Roberto_Martínez_Everton

 

After analysing the mixed form of Manchester United and Liverpool so far this season, it would be unfair not to look at the poor start Everton have suffered so far this term.

Last year Roberto Martinez and his men were terrific. They played with an intense, free-flowing style and deservedly took fifth spot in the league. The Spanish manager helped gain the team their greatest points haul in the last twenty seven years.

But so far this campaign we’ve seen Everton struggle in the league. The Toffees have only managed to gain five points in the opening five league outings. Plus they are still to pick up a win at Goodison.

In fairness two of those home games were against ‘Top Four’ sides. They probably should have beaten Arsenal as they had a two goal lead going into the last ten minutes but alas they folded and gave the ‘Gunners’ the incentive and a point. The 6-3 game against Chelsea was great for the neutral but both teams defences were shocking that day.

The opening day, saw Everton travel to Leicester to take on the Championship winners. It’s never easy against a newly promoted side on opening day, especially on their own patch. Leicester showed us against Man Utd that they are a battling side that never give up. That said Roberto Martinez may have expected his side to exert dominance and experience and get the better in that encounter.

They beat WBA away on the thirteenth of September with an assured display. It helped getting the early goal. But the stats were still pretty even.

I think that the loss to Crystal Palace, at home last weekend, was the biggest disappointment for the Everton faithful so far this season. Again they lost a lead (for the third time this campaign). The London side had yet to secure a Premier League victory, yet three mistakes from the Merseyside team allowed Palace to triumph 3-2 at Goodison. It was a defeat that came on the back of a convincing win for the Toffees in their opening Europa League fixture. But if that competition is going to mean anything then the team needs to be able to pick up points in the league after midweek adventures!

Last night they lost heavily in the League Cup to Swansea City. Now obviously that competition doesn’t mean as much as the league, in terms of priorities. But the fact is the team could have done with a victory or at least performance that could have lifted the clubs spirits.

We cannot forget that Bill Kenwright has went out this summer and backed his manager with hard cash in the transfer market. The £28m signing of Romelu Lukaku was huge for a team like Everton. It shows that they have big dreams and plenty of ambition. Then you add in the signing of Muhamed Besic for a fee in the region of £4m and the signings of Gareth Barry and Samuel Eto’o, both of whom will be on decent wages. They have also supplemented the squad by adding in a few loans.

Looking at the squad at the beginning of the 2014/15 season and it looked as though Everton could go from strength to strength and again challenge for a ‘Top Four’ finish. But this start has caught quite a few off guard. Yes they are missing Ross Barkley but they aren’t bad going forward or in the creative roles. The problem seems to stem from the back.

Too many mistakes have been made.

After his World Cup heroics in the summer, Tim Horward hasn’t had the same impact on the team as he did in previous years. I’m not a huge fan of current number two Joel Robles, but maybe Howard needs a break. Plus Martinez needs to address the central defensive situation. Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin aren’t getting any younger and have suffered dips in their form. John Stones looks to be a fantastic talent, but I am unsure he’s ready to play as a full-time centre back in the EPL. Antolin Alcaraz is also thirty-two and seems to be too injury prone to be relied upon.

We have to remember that it’s still only September. Everton aren’t in a crisis. They have still engineered exciting football and have a superb squad capable of shooting up the league. It should be seen as an achievement that pundits and commentators, such as myself, now ponder their start to a campaign and think they could be doing so much better.

I know Roberto Martinez will stay calm and get things going again but he might need to make some big changes at the back to get the side back on track!

Why Lampard Was Right Not To Celebrate

Frank_Lampard

When Frank Lampard was being introduced as the next Manchester City sub to enter the fray against his old side Chelsea last weekend, I turned to the person I was watching the game with and said ‘Poor Frank, he’s going to score here!’

As both sets of supporters welcomed the former English international midfielder onto the park, I just sensed he would come back to haunt his former employers. I also knew that if he were to score then he wouldn’t celebrate the strike.

Obviously it turned out I was right on both counts, he scored and didn’t celebrate the occasion.

The lack of celebration caused quite a few to get upset and angry on social media. It always happens. Although I didn’t notice any Man City fan moan or complain.

‘He now plays for City’, ‘he’s disrespecting the fans’, ‘they pay him now’ and ‘Chelsea dumped him!’. 

Just some of the statements I read.

Now for me, Lampard was right not to celebrate. Firstly because it’s his choice. We live in a society that believes in a freedom of choice, so surely we should congratulate a person who sticks to his morals.

The respect issue is a funny one. He clearly respects the City fans. He praised them during his post-match speech to the TV cameras. Plus would it not be more disrespectful for him to celebrate in front of Chelsea fans and ex teammates who he played with, for the last thirteen seasons?

This isn’t any ordinary player playing against one of his many former teams. He spent over a decade at Stamford Bridge, winning league titles, cups and a Champions League! Lampard is also Chelsea’s all time leading goalscorer. His name will forever be linked with that particular football club, it’s a simple as that. Those ties will be strong forever. He respects those fans and they respect him. He knows that his goal would have hurt them, but not nearly as much as it would had he rubbed it in their faces and celebrated it too.

Plus he isn’t really a Manchester City player. He is on loan to the English Premier League champions while he waits to begin his new start in America that will start in 2015.

What Man City’s owners pay him to do is play football. Frank Lampard is the ultimate professional. When the ball came to him, he did what he had to do as a footballer and scored for his team.

Lets face it goals are all that matter in this scenario. You don’t get any extra points for a good celebration! Oh and the fans and the rest of the City players did enough celebrating to make up for his muted response.

We all moan at footballers for not respecting other teams, fans, referees and the like. Yet when players do show commitment and respect we still have a go at them! They can’t win. Can’t we just let them be their own individuals and respect them for scoring important goals!

 

 

Eden Hazard: Chelsea’s Maestro And Weak Link?

Hazard

When you watch Eden Hazard attacking the opposition it can be a joy to behold. He glides across the grass, teasing defenders into lunging in before taking the ball around them and into space. The Belgian star will then put in an early cross or pass and try and create yet another chance for his Chelsea teammates.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s number ten is a player that can get fans off their seats and excited with his creative skill. The twenty-three year old can turn matches and players of his ilk don’t grow on trees.

That’s why Chelsea want to tie him down to a new lucrative five year deal worth around £200k a week.

In his first two seasons in England, Hazard has scored twenty-three goals and created eighteen assists. Already this term he has a goal and assist to his name in the opening five English Premier League matches. His ball in for Andre Schurrle against Manchester City was glorious and perfectly timed.

So you can see why everyone at Chelsea appreciates his talent and raves on about him.

But the left winger does have one major fault. He lacks in the defensive department.

In this modern era, full-backs have license to bomb forward and join in with attacks and help create chances. That means added defensive responsibility for the wide forwards and wingers as they have to keep an eye on those running past them.

Inside the first fifteen minutes against main title rivals City, Hazard fell asleep and let Pablo Zabaleta break down Chelsea’s left. That meant Cesar Azpilicueta had two opposing players to contend with. That allowed City to create a chance which eventually led to a corner and nothing more. But these sorts of incidents can be extremely costly in the biggest games.

Last season Chelsea were eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final stage, losing 3-1. For two of those goals Juanfran lost or ran past Eden and found a scorer with his passes.

Jose Mourinho has stated in the past that Hazard is a magician and is vital for any potential Chelsea successes but he has also warned the Belgian over his lack of defensive discipline.

But its not in Hazard’s make up to think backwards. Speaking to Andrew Gibney (a French football writer) who watched Eden develop at Lille, he pointed out that in France the creative maestro would not have been told to worry too much about marauding full-backs. His job was simply to get on the ball and create magic.

So it was always going to be hard for the Belgian to come to the EPL and combine both his attacking skills with a new defensive mind too. But he has improved since Jose came back to the Bridge last season.

Mourinho’s team selections will also help. Against Man City he fielded Ramires, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic in the middle of the park. All three have good legs able to cover on the wings if they see players get behind the wingers. Matic in particular seems to have the brain to see the action happen before it actually does.

Its also a reason why Jose plays Azpilicueta as his left-back. Many eyebrows were raised when Ashley Cole was dropped last season for the Spaniard. But Cesar doesn’t go forward just as much and that could have swayed Jose’s mind.

It helps having an aggressive frontman like Diego Costa up front. The powerhouse centre-forward also helps out defending set-pieces and that lets Hazard stay forward.

Undoubtably Hazard’s attacking qualities outweigh his defensive frailties and he has the tool set to become one of the worlds best creative forwards. But he still needs to work harder defensively if he is going to help Chelsea secure league and Champions League titles!

Balance The Key At Man Utd… And They Lack It!

Man Utd badge

A lot was made of Manchester United’s huge summer spending spree. But as Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera and Radamel Falcao all arrived to much acclaim, many of us were pointing out a new centre-back was needed if United were to be fully equipped for the rigours of the Premier League.

Louis van Gaal’s men looked good in their 4-0 crushing victory over QPR. They started well against new-boys Leicester City scoring twice in the first sixteen minutes and seemed to have reclaimed their strut. But within a minute of the second strike they conceded a goal. The defence was once again weak and not fully committed.

Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and all the other attacking players continued to impress going forward and a third United goal was found just twelve minutes into the second half. That should have been game over.

But alas Leicester kept trying to go and attack the United end and the inexperienced duo of Chris Smalling and Tyler Blackett never looked composed or ready for the challenge. Daley Blind was soon swamped without much help from his teammates in midfield.

City’s second (a Dave Nugent penalty) was unjust as Leicester’s Jamie Vardy fouled Rafael in the build up. But as soon as it became clear that the United right-back wasn’t getting the refs call he was too hasty in his return challenge. Surely by now the Brazilian knows not to go all out to get at an attacker from behind in the penalty area. His naivety sums up Man Utd’s defending so far this season.

The ‘Red Devils’ totally caved in after that penalty. Two minutes later the Championship winners equalised. United again looked soft in the centre of defence and failed numerous times to clear the danger. Veteran Esteban Cambiasso scored neatly from the edge of the box and send the home fans into dreamland.

As United then went in search of the winner they left more space at the back and that was a mistake. Their defence isn’t strong enough or has the experience to be trusted in such a situation. They went missing and Leicester played a nice ball through the middle and Vardy went through and slotted home.

They Premiership novices didn’t sit back and hold on. They once again spotted United’s weakness and got in behind again. Tyler Blackett showed he isn’t ready for such a huge role in this Manchester United team. He hacked down Vardy and got sent off. City had another pen and they once again took their chance.

This wasn’t a freak result. For over a year now United have been poor at the back. They knew experienced duo Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were leaving, yet didn’t bring in an experienced head who can talk the younger players through a game and close up shop when they have a lead.

People often say that offence is the best form of defence. It isn’t always true. United twice had a two goal lead and still through away the game, losing 5-3. That is pathetic. Leicester had great fight in their play and saw Man Utd’s weaknesses and capitalised on them. They deserved the win, even though they had a lucky call from the referee.

Blackett isn’t ready for full-time first team football. When Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans have been at their best at Old Trafford they’ve always had leaders beside them holding their hand.

Manchester United need a ball winning leader at the back, today proved that big time!

Liverpool Need To Gel Quickly

Liverpool_badge

I always said that Liverpool’s season was going to be tougher this time around. It always happens after a successful year. You become a bigger target for other clubs. At the moment this Liverpool squad seem to be swaying under the expectation that has been placed upon them.

Then you add the fact that you are playing in the Champions League most midweeks. Teams will look at the weekend fixtures after Liverpool’s European adventures as a time to get at the Anfield outfit. Sam Allardyce said as much after his West Ham side deservedly came away with a 3-1 victory. It was the first time in four years that Liverpool have had to play a league fixture after a midweek match in Europe’s elite competition. They looked shellshocked as the Hammers went up and at them straight away and took a two goal lead inside the first ten minutes. They also lost any energy by the end of the game allowing Morgan Amalfitano to secure the victory.

A big problem for the ‘Reds’ of Merseyside has been the amount of players that have came in and departed this summer. Six first teamers have been signed up whilst four have left. Half of those that have came in have no experience in the English Premier League (EPL). That can be telling when it comes to gelling quickly.

So far in their opening five EPL games we’ve seen twenty-one different players, with Brendan Rodgers still unsure on his best team.

Obviously losing a star such as Luis Suarez adds more problems. The Uruguayan might have been unpredictable with his behaviour but his goals were invaluable as was his work-rate off the ball. Mario Balotelli is a fantastic footballer but his style is different to that of Suarez and the whole team needs to get used to his style of play as he settles in.

Now as I said, the Champions League is going to add to Liverpool’s difficulties as Rodgers has to deal with fatigue and mental draining of his players but Liverpool lost two games before their Euro campaign had begun. Losing away to Man City proved they still have problems travelling to some of the leagues bigger sides. The loss at home to Aston Villa would have been bitterly disappointing. The Reds had the lion share  of possession and produced more chances yet couldn’t trouble the Villa goalkeeper.

Against West Ham they all looked disjointed. Too many passes in the middle of the park failed to find their targets and that put more added pressure onto the defence.

I think Simon Mignolet is still unconvincing when it comes to reassuring his teammates in front of him. He needs to build a relationship with the defenders because at the moment that is a weak link. His shot-stopping is fantastic but his failure to command his penalty area looks to be causing too many nervy moments in defence. It’ll be interesting to see if Rodgers really does want Victor Valdes at Anfield once he has recovered from his injury.

It will also be interesting to see the impact new boy Adam Lallana can have on this team once he is fully fit. The English midfielder showed at Southampton that he could dictate and change games but can he do that in a liverpool shirt?

Losing three games out of the opening five, is obviously not the start the Liverpool fans were expecting this term. But if Rodgers can find his best first eleven, all the new signings can settle in at Anfield and the team can get used to the demands of playing two huge games in a week then who is to say that they cannot go on great unbeaten runs like they did last season?

Against Spurs they looked sublime, they just need to preform like that more often!